Gold: Lions mustimprove
London Lions manager Tony Gold is confident that his troops can make a winning start to the Spartan South Midlands League when they take on London Colney tomorrow.
Based at Broxbourne Borough FC, the team won the Herts Centenary Cup last season and finished in the top half of the league in their first season at this level.
But their chances have been hit by the loss of two key players, and last weekend’s curtain-raiser against Berkhamstedendedinfailureastheywerethumped 6-0 in the Herts Charity Shield.
Now Gold has set his squad a clear objective for the season ahead.
“My expectation would be to build on last year and try to improve on our final leaguepositionof eighth,”hesaid.“However, in order to achieve this, we will need a greater commitment from the players and greater consistency throughout the long season, something which is much easier said than done.
“As each new season unfolds, it seems players become less and less committed and seem to find more excuses not to play.
“One important lesson I have learnt over the years is not to expect too much from anyone, because all that ends up happening is that you find yourself in a position of frustration and despondency.
“This season, I would quite simply settle for a squad of lads who just want to play football twice a week consistently, look forward to training once a week and enjoy playing competitive football at a decent level. “Repeating our cup success of last year would also be nice. It’s a very achievable goal, if we apply ourselves in the right manner.”
The Lions have lost James Gershfield and Craig Ellis, who helped Team GB win gold at last month’s European Maccabi Games. Gold said: “Several influential players from last season have decided that they would like to challenge themselves at a higher level of football and I wish them well.
“James has joined Potters Bar Town while Craig has returned to Wingate & Finchley but in all honesty, he rarely played last season due to injury and other commitments.
“Guy Morris is on a sabbatical but I hope he will return before the end of September.”
OnenewfacewhohascomeinisDean Nyman, a player Gold describes as “a major signing”. He said: “Dean is a true professional in everything he does. He has played at a consistently good level for many years and is a fantastic character to have around the club and squad.
“Losing Gershfield is obviously a blow due to the goals he scored last year but Dean is more then capable of matching and even bettering that.
“Ben Sollosi has also been training regularly and looks like a good prospect so we hope to have him signed before the season starts.” The Lions have entered the FA Vase for the first time, and face London ASPA on September 1 1 . Gold said: “ I t ’ s a deserved reward followi n g a h u g e l y s uccessf ul period in the club’s history and for all the hard work that goes on both on and off the pitch.”
Although the victorious GB squad was made up of predominantly Lions players, Gold said that many will be playing catch-up in terms of pre-season and fitness.
“Vienna was fantastic for those involved,” he said. “Ultimately, it featured90percentof mysquadwhichhas proved highly disruptive for our overall preparations for the new season. It has been far from ideal.
“Every single team in our league, bar none,wouldhaveorwillbeclosetocompleting what I would consider to be a proper pre-season programme. I would estimate our squad is probably between five or six weeks behind everyone else in relation to fitness, team understanding, set-piece work and overall game play.”
Working alongside assistant Steve Grenfell, the former Spurs player, Gold has tipped Hoddesdon Town, Kings Langley, London Colney and Cranfield Unitedtobethemainchallengers,along with newly-promoted Langford and Kentish Town.
He said: “The Spartan South Midlands Leagueisacompletelydifferenttypeand style of football compared to what the lads played and prepared for in Vienna. They will need to revert back quickly.
“Winning and knowing how to win becomes a good habit, so hopefully that side of things will rub off more frequently as the season unfolds. The vast majority of the Vienna lads trained for a European-style football. Fitness levels are nowhere near the levels I would expect for this time of year, especially for the physical and fast paced football we will be playing week in, week out in the Spartan League.”
Now Gold is looking for more players from the Maccabi League to step up and challenge for a place at the country’s premier Jewish football team.
“If you believe you have the ability and can make a real commitment to it, then do it. At least give yourself the opportunity and experience of tasting it.
“The key word here though is commitment. Today’s generation of kids are very different to my generation. It seems that fewer players, and especially Jewish footballers, lack that desire to test themselves at the highest levels available to them. A lot of players today with ability would rather stay in their comfort zones for reasons best known to them. I guess that is the choice they have, and one that works best for themselves.
“One thing is for sure,” he said. “It’s anyone’s guess where the next potential Guy Morris, Paul Hakim, Craig Ellis or Daniel Stanton is coming from.”
Having won gold in Vienna, Daniel Stanton will be a key man for Lions
Focused: Tony Gold